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The Prius Should Be Its Own Brand Name

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author photo by Bill Leedy April 2018

Occasionally on the pages of Oversteer, ideas get thrown around that the automotive industry could and should use to their advantage. It's like a service we provide. Past ideas have included that perhaps "Corvette" should become its own brand, or Cadillac should capitalize on current market trends and give us a XT5-V rocket-powered crossover. Now it's time for me to impart some of my own wisdom (wisdom may not be the correct term …), except that I'm going to venture outside the realm of General Motors and set my sights on the Toyota Prius.

Unless you've spent the last twenty years living in a hole you dug at the exact center of the Sahara Desert, you know about the Toyota Prius. Yeah, that hybrid-electric car with smug levels on par with Tesla -- but without the performance to still appeal to the type of people for whom the mantra "no replacement for displacement" is a way of life, not a saying.

For starters, let's look at the current Toyota landscape. They make some cars, some trucks and some SUVs. Big deal -- so does pretty much everyone. Then, of course, there's the Prius. Which has the itty bitty "C" model, the regular model and the larger "V" model. Now, starting last year, we even have the Prius Prime, which replaces the plug-in hybrid version of the regular car. Then there are all the non-Prius cars that have Hybrid stickers on them, like the Camry, the RAV4, the Highlander and the Avalon.

What if, instead of all this mess, all of the hybrids fell under the Prius brand? The Prius brand name alone would increase sales of the hybrid RAV4 if they just changed the name to the Prius X.

Then, because of increased sales using the cachet of the Prius name, Toyota could build a dedicated hybrid crossover. And without the need for it to be a normal car, too, it can be designed from the ground up to be a hybrid without compromise. It can be made lighter and more aerodynamic, and it can be given optimal battery placement in order to minimize intrusion into the cabin. All of these things combined would probably net you a crossover that, even with all-wheel-drive, would break the 40-mpg barrier. Or, perhaps, they could create something with the usefulness of a small pickup truck, but with the fuel economy of a small hatchback?

Then, when that car sells by the billions every month, a new large sedan can come into play -- and then maybe a sports coupe and convertible to successfully combine some performance with high efficiency to the enthusiast crowd. Or how about a Prius C hot hatch with a modest horsepower bump and a manual transmission?

Anyway, it's just a thought I had. Being an absolutely gigantic company means that Toyota is a big enough to pull this off. Sure, developing an entirely different crossover sounds like a silly idea -- especially since you have an adequate one in your lineup already that you sell by the millions. But the Prius brand has value -- and one could imagine a 40-mile per gallon, Prius-branded crossover could sell in numbers that meet or exceed the current RAV4.

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New 2018 Toyota Prius Three Touring
New 2018 Toyota Prius
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New 2018 Toyota Prius Four
New 2018 Toyota Prius
MSRP $34,148
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New 2018 Toyota Prius Four Touring
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New 2018 Toyota Prius Four
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The Prius Should Be Its Own Brand Name - Autotrader